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Published on December 24th, 2018 | by Jose Pontes

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6.3% Plug-In Vehicle Market Share In China! — #CleanTechnica Electric Car Sales Report

December 24th, 2018 by  


6.3% PEV share!

After two record-breaking months (September with 105,000 sales and October with 120,000), plug-in vehicles in November just kept on pushing forward. There were more than 140,000 registrations there last month, up 59% year over year (YoY). The previous record was beaten by a significant margin (18%).

If we extrapolate to December, sales could peak at some 155,000 units. That would mean that 2018 sales would surpass the 1 million units mark. In one year. And to think that 2017 was the first year that plug-ins reached 1 million sales, globally. Woah.

With all this continued growth, and the recent decline of the mainstream market (-14% in November), the PEV share hit another all-time best. It ended the month with 6.3% market share (as noted above), while the 2018 share rose to 3.8% share, a new record and well above the 2.1% share of 2017. With sales expected to continue growing through December, the 2018 PEV share could end north of 4%, with December possibly reaching surpassing 7%.

If this growth rate continues throughout 2019, in a year from now, we should be talking about shares above 10%, and that’s when things start to get interesting!

The domestic market is more than enough to absorb current Chinese production, and most foreign automakers only recently started to tackle current seismic changes in the market, dragged into electrification by upcoming PEV quotas. That has contributed to foreign brands’ total share still being stuck at 6%.

2% market share belongs to BMW, the best-selling foreign brand, and 2% to Tesla. The remaining foreign manufacturers share the remaining 2%.

In November, the headline news was the BYD Dynamic Duo (Tang and Yuan) scoring a continued rise and rise, with the first nameplate joining the top 10.


Here’s November’s top 5 best selling models:

#1 — BAIC EC-Series: After the record 20,648 registrations of October, BAIC’s small EV returned to more normal performances, with 14,205 units being delivered last month. With almost twice as many registrations as the #2 BYD Qin in 2018, the EC-Series continues to disrupt the Chinese market, replicating what the Tesla Model 3 is doing in the USA. The revised design and improved specs (new 30 kWh battery) allowed the EC-Series to remain a popular choice in Chinese megacities. The car was also helped, as usual, by a competitive price ($25,000, before subsidies).

#2 — BYD Tang PHEV: After seven months on the market, the second-generation Tang continues to expand its sales, scoring a record 6,405 registrations in November. Sales should continue strong for BYD’s successful flagship, and new record sales could still be achieved in the future. Although, the upcoming BEV Tang could steal sales from this version. As for the current Tang PHEV specs, BYD’s sporty SUV saw the battery grow to 24 kWh, leading to an increased 100 km (62 mi) of range NEDC (around 70 km / 44 mi real-world range). In the power department, things stayed the same, with some 500 hp and 0–100 km/h in fewer than 5 secs. All for CNY 279,800 ($40,816).

#3 — BYD Yuan EV: We all knew that BYD’s new Baby Crossover was destined for success, and with a record 6,188 deliveries in November, BYD’s new baby is living up to expectations. Will the Yuan be the fiercest competitor in 2019 to the all-conquering BAIC EC-Series? With a 40,000 waiting list, demand is no problem, so I guess it will depend more on BYD’s ability/willingness to make the vehicle in large volumes (the Tang is more profitable remember). Sitting on a sparsely populated part of the market (small fully electric crossovers), with unrivaled specs (42 kWh battery, 305 km or 190 mi NEDC range, 174 hp motor), and with a relatively low price ($25,000), BYD might have found in this new model its star player, crowning what it is already a strong lineup.

#4 — BYD e5: BYD’s bread and butter electric sedan, a favorite among taxi drivers, had a record 5,573 registrations in November. Yet, this performance was overshadowed by BYD stars Tang and Yuan. This Andre Iguodala (who?) of the BYD lineup has some strong specs (61 kWh battery, 405 km or 252 mi range NEDC, 218 hp) for a competitive price (CNY 220,650 / $34,600). Unfortunately, the basic design makes it a bit of an unsung hero in the BYD stable, next to the Tangs, Qins, Songs, and Yuans.

#5 — Baojun E100: Shanghai Auto and General Motors (GM) had high hopes for their tiny two-seater, and despite an irregular career, it is finally starting to make an impact on the Chinese plug-in market, having landed 5,155 registrations last month, its best result of the year. With an updated range in 2018 (250 km or 155 mi NEDC) thanks to a new 24 kWh battery, its price (CNY 93,900 / $14,700) before subsidies is quite alluring, especially considering its modern design and features.


2018 Ranking

In a record month, there were plenty of models shining. Besides the aforementioned records mentioned in the 5 top sellers, the #19 Hawtai xEV compact SUV registered a record 3,257 units, while the #20 Dongfeng Junfeng Skio, a new face in this top 20, scored 4,142 units, not only a new record for Dongfeng’s subcompact car, but also for any of the maker’s EV models.

There were also some significant changes in the ranking. The Chery eQ climbed to #5, while BYD’s star models, the Tang and Yuan, continued their seemingly never-ending rise, with the midsize SUV jumping three positions, to #8 (the Tang’s return to the top 10), while the subcompact electric crossover Yuan did even better, shooting up four spots, to #11, while it prepares itself to join the top 10 in December. If that happens, there will be 5 BYD models in the top 10.

That’s what’s impressive about BYD. Unlike others, which are dependent on their star players’ performances (see: LeBron James at the Cavs), BYD has a constellation in its lineup, replicating the successful formula of the Golden State Warriors in the EV universe. And with looong waiting lists, the Yuan alone has 40,000 reservations, so the 400,000 units target that the company has for 2019 seems quite feasible.   

Outside the top 20, there’s much to talk about, the BMW 530e continues to amaze, having scored yet another record performance, with 2,649 registrations. The German sedan is not only the best selling plugin of its category, but also the best performing foreign model, in the #22 position.

But in November the BMW model had a tough race for the Best-Selling Foreign Model title, as the Nissan Sylphy EV charged up to start driving at full speed, ending with 2,400 units registered. So, December should be an entertaining race between the two models, unless…

Unless the recently arrived Volkswagens steal the show.

The midsize VW Passat PHEV sedan landed with a bang, scoring 1,513 registrations in its debut month, the best arrival for a foreign nameplate ever. The compact SUV Tiguan PHEV also scored a not negligible 618 units, so November signaled Volkswagen’s real arrival in this market. Considering the German brand is the most popular automaker in the country, expect it to be a major player in the EV space soon.

Elsewhere, the Nio ES8 continued its gradual ramp up (3,089 registrations last month), being once again the best selling luxury SUV of the month. That allowed the new startup’s SUV to remove the Tesla Model X from the yearly category leadership position.

With the new ES6 midsize SUV said to start deliveries by mid-2019, the Chinese startup is making the best use of the short time it has to grow and win scale before the big boys land with their dedicated BEVs.

Looking at the manufacturer ranking, BYD (20%) is a comfortable leader, thanks to the new Tang and Yuan, while runner-up BAIC (15%) is finally profiting from the EC-Series sales infusion to retain market share. In 3rd place, Shanghai-based Roewe (7%) had a horrible month, with only 6,700 deliveries, its worst result since February. That allowed Chery (6% share) to come closer, now with hopes of reaching the podium, which would be the first time that Chery would win a medal since 2014.

Rank China November 2018 PEV Market Share YTD
1 BAIC EC-Series 14,205 82,230 9%
2 BYD Qin PHEV 3,912 42,271 5%
3 JAC iEV S/E 4,507 39,768 4%
4 BYD e5 5,573 37,979 4%
5 Chery eQ 4,352 35,002 4%
6 BYD Song PHEV 3,075 34,774 4%
7 SAIC Roewe Ei6 PHEV 2,689 31,874 3%
8 BYD Tang PHEV (Gen. I & II) 6,405 30,339 3%
9 Hawtai EV160 1,983 29,051 3%
10 Geely Emgrand EV 4,508 28,618 3%
11 BYD Yuan EV 6,188 27,678 3%
12 JMC E200 3,372 26,904 3%
13 BAIC EX-Series 1,161 25,966 3%
14 BAIC EU-Series 2,941 24,782 3%
15 SAIC Roewe Ei5 EV 1,143 22,707 2%
16 SAIC Roewe eRX5 PHEV 1,021 22,136 2%
17 SAIC Baojun E100 5,155 21,196 2%
18 Zotye E200 1,904 16,572 2%
19 Hawtai xEV 3,257 15,898 2%
20 Dongfeng Junfeng Skio 4,142 15,122 2%
+ Others 64,439 324,394 35%
ALL TOTAL 141,790 920,139 100%

Cool New Kids

Only three new models landed in November, with two of them of great importance. The third one, the Toyota iX4, is theoretically Toyota’s first fully electric model in this market, but in reality, it is nothing more than a rebadged GAC GS4 compact crossover. Do I hear compliance EV? Anyway, let’s talk about the other two:

Volkswagen Passat GTE — After a good life in Europe, where it sold some 50,000 units over a three-year span, the midsize PHEV migrated to China, where it expects to sell at least as many per year. That’s how big the Chinese market is. While the US and European markets can be considered the NBA’s Eastern Conference / UEFA’s Europe League, the Chinese NEV market is the Western Conference / Champions League. If you want to be big in The Game, you have to succeed in China.

While at first sight the Passat GTE is not specced to triumph in China — after all, it’s a PHEV with only 50 km NEDC range — the truth is that the standard VW Passat sells some 17,000 units/month in China, so even if the PHEV version had only 10% of those sales, that would be 1,700 units per month. Thing is, with 1,513 units in its landing month, it seems Volkswagen is more ambitious than that, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the nameplate reached some 4,000–5,000 units per month.

Will this be the Tesla Model 3’s fiercest competitor for the 2019 Best Selling Foreign Model title? Answer: Maybe, maybe not.

Rumors say that in 2019 VW will electrify its best-selling nameplate in China, the Lavida, which sells at 45,000 units/month.

Volkswagen Tiguan GTE — The second model that Volkswagen launched in November didn’t quite make the same impact as the Passat, but the 618 units delivered in the landing month also means that VW is serious about it, especially considering this is a China-only model (for now, at least). With a 12kWh battery, an electric range of 52 kms NEDC, and a price of CNY 300,000 ($42,000), there’s nothing to write home about, especially since it is entering a crowded segment. However, with the regular Tiguan selling some 27,000 units every month, if the PHEV version gets 10% of that, it will sell close to 3,000 units, already a sizable number to keep VW happy. 
 
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About the Author

Always interested in the auto industry, particularly in electric cars, Jose has been overviewing the sales evolution of plug-ins through the EV Sales blog since 2012, allowing him to gain an expert view on where EVs are right now and where they are headed in the future. The EV Sales blog has become a go-to source for people interested in electric car sales around the world. Extending that work and expertise, Jose is now a partner in EV-Volumes and works with the European Alternative Fuels Observatory on EV sales matters.



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